“We continue to take advantage of the exchange rate”: the reasons for the influx of Uruguayan tourists who have arrived in Argentina

Rodrigo García, 43, is Uruguayan and lives in Montevideo. He came with his two children and his wife to town to take advantage of the fact that in his country, from yesterday until next Sunday, the Tourism week, which implies that a large part of the population has holidays. Now they wander around the Barracas neighborhood looking for a few clothing stores. He says that Argentina, for them, is “very cheap”, and that largely explains the influx of Uruguayans who arrived this weekend. In some cases, this flow of tourists, 13% more than the same weekend in 2019, has generated delays of up to 14 hours on the bridges that connect the two countries.

Garcia’s trip to the city has been an odyssey. They left their home in the Pocitos neighborhood at 7 a.m. and did not arrive until 5 a.m. the next day. The reason for such a delay was what happened when they crossed the Libertador General San Martin International Bridge, which unites Fray Bentos with Gualeguaychú. “We queued for 13 hours. We arrived in the morning and crossed the bridge at 12:30 the next day. We had to call a grill to bring us something to eat. Everything was very badly organized because there were few people [en las casillas] and there were too many steps to take. First, there was health control; then, the migrants and the vehicle, among others”, describes García.

After more than two years, Argentina has opened all border crossing points it had closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the National Directorate of Migration, all access points from Uruguay are open, but the number of people who have passed through them has exceeded the attention span. For example, in Gualeguaychú there are 10 immigration offices and all were operational.

According to this organization, through the three border crossings that connect Argentina to Uruguay by land, 38,600 people went from Friday to noon today. This number represents an increase of 13% compared to the same weekend in 2019. Coming from the National Directorate of Migration of Uruguay, they told THE NATION that this weekend 61,000 Uruguayans traveled to Argentina, if we add those who left by land, sea and air.

Spokespersons for the Buquebus company specify that the three operational ships operate with a high flow of passengers and that they could further increase the number of services if the situation requires it. “We are very happy with the great movement of Uruguayan tourists who choose Argentina to spend Tourism Week. For them, Argentina has very good prices in terms of gastronomy and hospitality. The favorable exchange rate as well as the easing of sanitary measures have generated great interest in visiting Buenos Aires. Now we have three daily services, two to Colonia and one to Montevideo, and to these is added the daily departure that we make from Carmelo, which operates at 70% capacity,” they indicate.

Arrival of Uruguayan tourists via Buquebus arriving for Tourism WeekSilvana Colombo – THE NATION

Now that they have been able to overcome the obstacle of crossing the border, García and his family are enjoying the capital. “Buenos Aires is full of Uruguayans. I realize this because I see some with club football shirts there and I saw a boy with a shirt from a Uruguayan music group. The truth is that, for us, Buenos Aires is cheap. Designer clothes are the same price, but transport is ridiculously expensive, as is food. For example, in Montevideo you eat in a good restaurant for 35 or 40 dollars per person. In Argentina, you usually spend around $10 per person. I was here in October last year and the prices have gone up a lot, but we continue to profit from the exchange rateexplains Garcia.

Alejandro Balbi is also Uruguayan and arrived in Argentina today with his wife and son. In their case, they traveled by land to the capital, through the General José Gervasio Artigas International Bridge, which connects the cities of Colón and Paysandú, and then, in Aeroparque, they took a flight that took them to their final destination, Bariloche. In his case, it took five hours to cross the border.

“In Uruguay there are no classes for the whole week and many activities have stopped working. For example, I am a lawyer and the courts are not open this week. For this reason many Uruguayans travel and Argentina is a good option for the price, everything is cheaper here, food, housing, gasoline, everything“says Balbi.

And he adds that now his compatriots tend to visit more destinations in Argentina, contrary to what happened a few years ago when, as he says, they went almost exclusively to Buenos Aires: “I know people who have been to Salta and others who, like us, have traveled south. There is also more local tourism and many go to the hot springs of Entre Ríos. The range of options has been significantly expanded.

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